Some products and service sales are instantaneous – the exchange of the product or service happens at the point the client agrees to partake of it. FMCG is a prime example – you want groceries, you can pay for them and walk out the door with them.
Other times, whilst this exchange can happen instantaneously, the value or benefit the client receives occurs after the exchange. Sometimes days, weeks, months or longer still. This is a harder sell as you are having to convince a client to commit to something today (often with a financial consideration now ) on YOUR commitment what YOU promised them will happen tomorrow. You are selling deferred value.
How do you deal with this?
- This isn’t a case of ‘under promise/over deliver’ or vice versa. These strategies don’t always work. If you ‘under promise’ – unless you know your client well, you risk losing the opportunity today on the hope you will show them more value than they committed to tomorrow. You need to ensure you commit upfront to what you will do for them tomorrow.
- Scope well – you can’t promise properly if you don’t have the foundation of knowledge on which to build the promises.
- Commit to real things you can deliver – not concepts, not hypotheticals. Real Things! Commit to things in your sphere of influence – unless you can direct others, don’t make promises that other people have to deliver. Promise what YOU can do, not what you hope you can do.
- This is often a two way street – sometimes, both parties will need to do something along the journey to realise the value. Articulate this to your clients.
- Prime example are weight loss gadgets. They gloss over the fact that, in order to lose that X pounds over 12 weeks – your diet is equally, if not more, important than the machine itself. They fail to set the client expectation of what is required from THEM to enjoy the benefits.
Execute As You Entered
- Too often clients receive more attention before they are clients than they do once they become one. Sales people quickly move on to the new target and, unfortunately, forget about the ones they’ve onboarded.
- Your clients expect the same level of service, love and attention every day of their relationship with you! You set a service expectation – it’s your rod hitting your back!
- We see this regularly – discounts/incentives/concessions for new clients, little for those who are already clients. Your clients aren’t stupid – they see this, don’t kid yourself in to believing that they don’t, or they don’t care. Don’t love that which you don’t yet have at the expense of that which you’ve already got and committed to.
- Make sure you are talking with your client regularly. Things change – they change, you change. Talk to them regularly, revisit the promises/commitments made, adjust as required to fit their ‘new’ circumstances.
- Delivering the promises today is based on the assumptions of tomorrow – you need to ensure these assumptions are still valid regularly.
- Sometimes a promise becomes impossible to deliver due to changes – tell you client, don’t just hope they forget about it. Look for new promises/commitments as well.
Selling deferred value is often difficult – but not impossible. A client is making a commitment to you, your organisation and product/service. They are saying ‘I believe that you will deliver this value, so I will commit to you today’. They do this on the strength of your relationship and commitment!